I received my first recent rejection last week of a story I sent in to Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a really great publication. I can't say I wasn't prepared for this, but it always stings.The story is simple in its premise--a dragon attack on a town--but told with some decent (I think) plot twists and good characterization. The rejection notes mentioned a shifting POV (point of view) that left the editor unable to get into the main character.
Fair enough. I discussed this POV shift with J.M. Martin before submitting the story, and we both thought it was an acceptable addition to the plot. And what drives me to publish this story is that it is based on a nightmare I had some six months ago; extremely vivid and terrifying enough to make me want to write about it. Once the sting of the rejection wore off, I felt the need to make the story better. But not before sending it around to a couple more publications. If I get similar comments about the shifting POV, then I'll make some corrections.
One thing that made me feel better was to type in "tales from the slush pile" in Google and see things from the editors' eyes. I came up with some very enlightening reads.
Romance editor punts!
An editor finds some interesting things in the slush pile.
And some good advice.
The bottom line is that you have to love doing this. Beyond just reading and enjoying fiction, you have to burn with the need to actually create something that moves people. You have to love the process, the getting there, the interaction with other authors and readers. It is easy to be selfish, but much harder--and more rewarding--to get out there and genuinely become part of the writing community.